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The Ultimate World 5-a-side Team

Inspired by the FA Umbro Fives competition (with a final at Wembley), I’ve picked the ultimate 5-a-side team. The only criteria is that the players must be currently active, regardless of which league they are playing in.

Have a look through my selection below, and then share your own in the comments.

Selection Criteria

1. 1 goalkeeper, 4 outfield players, 2 substitutes and 1 manager.
2. Pick players that would be most suited to / thrive in 5-a-side football. A player with great aerial ability isn’t necessarily made-for 5-a-side football. Technical ability, speed, low center of gravity, accuracy, consistency and the ability to play multiple roles in a team are the key factors. Don’t go for things like long-range shooting – really, how far do you need to shoot in a 5-a-side game?
3. You can’t pick more than 2 players from the same club team. Otherwise people will have half of the Barcelona team lined up here, and where’s the fun in that?


You need the best shot-stopper in the world, someone who can make lightening fast saves, stop those low drives, and cause despair in opposition players just by stepping on the pitch. There are plenty of quality keepers around, but Iker Casillas is easily the best amongst them, and he would shine in a 5-a-side team (let’s face it, the Madrid defence have given him plenty of practice in one-on-one saves).


A libero the style of Beckenbauer is needed, but there are few defenders today who are comfortable on the ball. Strength is a good criteria to have but above all you need immaculate positioning, sharp tackling and great passing ability, with shooting a bonus. My shortlist here was Gerard Pique, Ashley Cole and Daniel Alves, and you could play any of these three in defence without hesitation. Ultimately though, it’s about ball-skills, and while that may be the perfect stage for Ashley Cole to shine, my 5-a-side team has Daniel Alves in it.

Yes, you don’t always have to pick a central defender here.


Defensive ability is less of a concern than creativity, ability to score and a willingness to track back. It’s tempted to put in two creative midfielders but that would put a lot of pressure on the defender. The ideal option would be to have an all-action central midfielder (with great ball-skills, of course) and play two forwards-cum-midfielders instead.

And I’ve done exactly that – picked a central midfielder and placed two players in the ‘Attack’ section, although both of them are perfectly capable of playing on the wings, through the middle, up front, and are easily the two fastest and most-skilled footballers around today (you’ve already guessed, haven’t you?).

Any way, back to the midfield – who can we pick here? The shortlist was a lengthy one, but it came down to Fabregas and Xavi. It’s tough to find two players as complete as these two (there are other, all-action midfielders but their ball skills aren’t in the same park as these two), and it’s tough to pick one of them. Eventually, I went with Fabregas because of the 2-per-team rule.

Phillip Lahm makes the subs bench. He can play in defence (allowing Dani Alves to push upfront), he can also sit in midfield and pass the ball, and he’s got quick feet. Above all he’s a team man.


This one is simple to pick – as mentioned earlier, I decided to pick two players in attack who could basically play anywhere in the forward line, and in a 5-a-side game, they’d wreak havok on the opposition. Excellent ball skills, so fast cameras have trouble keeping up and the ability to win games on their own.

Take a bow, Lionel Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo.

It’s true that I could have picked more ‘traditional’ strikers – Drogba (ball-skills?), Villa, Torres, Van Persie, Rooney, Forlan, etc etc. But I’m building a team, and these two complement the ‘total football’ nature of this 5-a-side team.

The subs choice came down to Gourcuff, Robben, Jovetic and Sneijder. Ultimately I went with Stevan Jovetic for the pace / finishing, as his inclusion would mean one of the two attacking players dropping deeper into the midfield.

World 5-a-side

Manager: Jose Mourinho (Real Madrid) – no prepares for matches better than him.

GK: Iker Casillas (Real Madrid)
DF: Daniel Alves (Barcelona)
MF: Cesc Fabregas (Arsenal)
ATT: Cristiano Ronaldo (Real Madrid) and Lionel Messi (Barcelona)

Subs: Phillip Lahm (Bayern Munich) and Stevan Jovetic (Fiorentina)

Ok, that’s my choice for the ultimate world 5-a-side team. Do you agree/disagree with my picks? Let’s hear your suggestions…

Brought to you by the FA Umbro Fives

FA Umbro FivesThe FA Umbro Fives is the national 5-a-side competition organised by the English FA. The final will be played at Wembley, with participating teams going through the same experience as teams playing a real cup final and the once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to score / win a title at Wembley.

The website has all the details on how to sign up, plus highlights from previous finals, tips on 5-a-side football from Umbro. You also have the chance to win TEN tickets to an England match throug the FA Umbro Fives’ Facebook page, so check that out too.

Here’s the tournament preview video:

This article was written by Ahmed Bilal of Soccerlens. You can follow him on Twitter.

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  1. ish

    September 18, 2010 at 1:39 am

    in 5 a side the Gk doesnt need to be tall so agility and quickness is more important. so casillas gets the nod.
    in defense i like my players to be more all rounded and tough so having a player that can do it all is preferred. essien.
    in midfield i think you need a player that can not only pass but shoot and do runs. im gonna go with fabregas because of his all round game and speed. but my backup is gerrard who is a good attacker as well.
    in attack im gonna go messi and c.ron. They play opposite sides leaving fab the midfield to have late runs. Both have lethal shot. Backup is forlan.

    SO team is
    GK: Casillas
    DF: Essien
    MF: Fabregas
    AT: Messi and C.ron

    Backup: Gerrard and Forlan
    Manager: arrigo sacchi

  2. ChrisWest

    September 17, 2010 at 8:34 pm

    GK: Casillas (duh) Real Madrid
    Xavi Barcelona
    Messi Barcelona
    Forlan Athletico Madrid
    Drogba Chelsea

    Sneijder Inter Milan
    Fabregas Arsenal

    ME! I mean, how hard would it be?

  3. T Bogard

    September 17, 2010 at 1:39 pm

    This was pretty fun to think up.

    GK: Casillas
    DF: Puyol
    MF: Messi, Arshavin
    ST: Drogba

    Subs: Lahm, Müller
    Manager: Ancelotti

    Casillas in goal is pretty cut-and-dry. He’s the best at what he does right now. Puyol in defense…because I want my defender to defend. He needs to be a wall to fend off all the Messis and Ronaldos coming at him. Messi is another pretty obvious choice. He’s simply brilliant. I went with Arshavin because he can score goals, but he’s a really big support player. I want a well-rounded team and Arshavin just made sense when being teamed up with everyone else. Finally, Drogba. I’ve got Messi and Arshavin if I want flare. Drogba is just a monster and with Messi and Arshavin feeding him, who’s going to stop him?

    For subs, I went with Lahm for those games when I do want my defender to move forward and attack. I also went with Müller which may be a bit controversial since he’s so young/inexperienced, but after his World Cup performance and his ability to pull off some magic when it counts, I felt he’d be a fantastic sub.

    For manager…I went with Ancelotti. Sure, I’m a Chelsea fan and I had to resist the urge to put Frank Lampard on my 5-man squad, but Ancelotti really does impress with his decision making and tactics. There’s a reason people have been comparing him to The Special One and it’s got more to do with him just winning with Chelsea.

  4. Matt

    September 17, 2010 at 12:13 pm

    GK- Casillas
    DF- Maicon
    MF- Bale
    AMF- Ronaldo
    F- Messi

    Subs: Rooney, Sneijder
    Manager: Hardly need one

    casillas is a great shot stopper and good on the ball too. maicon is quick, stong, and has no problem dribbling forward. bale is a machine that can run all day. has played in defense so could be useful there. great 1 on 1 play and decent shot as well. Ronaldo- quick, pacy, dribbling skills, canon shot and finesse shot- has everything for 5 a side. Messi- you need a lot more than 4 outfield players to slow him down, simple as that.

  5. TheSoccerSage

    September 17, 2010 at 11:33 am

    I’m going for experience here:

    Gigi Buffon
    Ricardo Carvalho
    Paul Scholes
    Juan Roman Riquelme
    Francesco Totti

    Bench: Carles Puyol, Ruud van Nistelrooy
    Manager: Johan Cruyff

  6. M Emanuel

    September 17, 2010 at 10:14 am

    My 5-a-side:

    GK: Casillas
    DMF: Xavi
    MF: Messi, C. Ronaldo
    ST: Rooney

    Subs: Ronaldinho, Ashley Cole

    Manager: Arsene Wenger

  7. Ahmed Umair

    September 17, 2010 at 7:59 am

    My 5-a-side team:

    GK: Luis Suarez
    DF: Xavi
    MF: Lionel Messi, Cristiano Ronaldo
    ST: Ronaldinho

    Subs: Carlos Tevez, Lucio
    Manager: Jose Mourinho

    Suarez, because he can keep and he can join the attack to increase the numbers.
    Xavi can defend a bit and can very well dictate the play. Since 5-a-side will be a small ground, I’m sure he can manage distributing the ball.
    Messi and CR for similar reasons: pace, control, quality, etc.
    Ronaldinho is a class act. He can manage a role of a target man as well as sitting back in the center and letting CR or Messi go up front from the sides… at the same times even.
    Tevez for his non-stop hard work and running.
    Rio to help Xavi. A solid center-back can come in to stand as a rock in front of the goalie.
    Mourinho, because I can’t pick three from the same team. Otherwise, it would’ve been Pep Guardiola.

    • Leks

      September 17, 2010 at 10:53 am

      So tell me…wat were you smoking/drinking when u wrote this? I might need to have some myself.

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